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Sean Stewart Tops Zion Williamson’s Vertical

Words we didn't think we’d be reading anytime soon

2023 Powerade JamFest
 HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 27: Sean Stewart #12 of McDonald’s All American Boys East participates in the 2023 Powerade Jamfest at Delmar Fieldhouse on March 27, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Some athletic feats you think might never be challenged. Bob Beamon’s epic long jump in the 1968 Olympics - that jump obliterated the previous record by nearly two feet. Secretariat’s 31-length win in the Belmont Stakes might stand forever. Only Wilt Chamberlain has ever scored 100 points in an NBA game, a record that has stood for over 60 years now.

Zion Williamson was that sort of Paul Bunyanesque figure at Duke. At 6-6 and 285, he had unbelievable power in his entire body but especially his legs. He set the standing vertical record at Duke at 35.5 inches in 2016 and it seemed like something no one else would do any time soon.

Well, scratch that.

Freshman Sean Stewart topped Williamson’s record, getting to 36 inches.

As Bill Russell once said, guys complain about various aspects of the game, but literally nobody complains about jumping. It’s a beautiful aspect of the game and it looks like Stewart has something special going on.

However, by itself it’s meaningless. There was a fringe ABA player named Charlie Hentz who was called Helicopter because he was such an incredible leaper. He may be the only guy who destroyed two backboards in a single game, against the Carolina Cougars in Raleigh. However, he apparently had no feel for the game and frequently jumped at the wrong time. Despite his immense physical talents, he only played in 57 games, averaging 6.0 ppg and 6.8 boards.

One hopes Stewart is better than that.

By the way, the image Duke put out of Stewart is pretty damn cool.